Make Better Choices
When I started my National Coaching Institute level 4 coaching diploma I thought I would be posting every week, but it’s almost December and this is my first post! My friend Warren inspired me to write these; he was a great supporter through my application and emails me almost every week to find out how things are going. So Warren this first post on nutrition is dedicated to you.
Eat for your sport. Maybe your sport is your daily survival through work and your life activities. From what I learned last night we can all do a better job at fueling the fire that feeds us every day. Here are some the ‘takeaways’ and recommendations from the beginning our Nutrition Module.
- Write down what you are eating: It is amazing what you can learn about your diet from writing it down. Record what you eat and when you eat, and how much liquid you consume as well. And because you’re not sharing anything if you don’t write it down the only person you’re lying to is yourself. Make sure you’re eating a variety of nutritious foods. Bacon is ok! Just remember to eat things in moderation.
- Make sure you eat a balanced diet: I’m not talking about a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, etc… well in a sense I am. Make sure you eat the right balance of Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins. A well balanced diet is about 20-35%, Carbohydrates, 10-25% from Protein and 20-35% from fat. Your aim should be to eat between 1.5 to 2 grams of protein for every kilogram you weigh (only know your weight in pounds, use this website to calculate your weight in kilos). Try and eat good fats (i.e. EVOO, unrefined oils, nut butters, raw nuts and seeds, avocado, etc.). Adjust your carbohydrates to meet your caloric needs, before your fats or proteins. While carbohydrates are our immediate energy sources, proteins and fats are our building blocks for sustaining a healthy body.
- Add supplements where you need them
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: I always thought if I ate fish a few times a week that I would be doing enough to get the Omega-3 fatty acids that I need; Omega-3s are essential in cell function and production. Apparently I was wrong, I will be starting a regimen of fish based Omega-3 fatty acids. While flax seeds and oil are a good source of Omega-3, it is not bio-available in our bodies. A series of reactions need to occur before our cells can use it; in the end only 1/10th of flax Omega-3s are used by your cells.
- Magnesium: If you’re an endurance athlete a daily dose of magnesium will help with recovery; magnesium is essential in cell function, muscle contraction and extension, nerve function, cardiac function, etc. Take it just before bed and you further increase the benefits of the magnesium.
- Iron: This is more important for female endurance athletes. There is a lot of breakdown of cells that occurs when we workout. The best sources of iron are red meets (beef, bison, deer, etc). Iron is also available in other meats and vegetables but is not absorbed as well. Almost all female endurance athletes are encouraged to include an iron supplement in their diet. Personally I prefer liquid iron because it is easier on your stomach.
- Daily vitamins: I personally try to avoid these. A few years ago I decided I was going to try and eat a wide range of foods to get the necessary enzymes, nutrient and vitamins that I needed. But I recognize that not everyone can commit to that. If you know your diet is limited, because of tastes or time, consider getting a well balanced vitamin. Look for high quality vitamins and nutrients; liquid and capsules are the best.
- Recovery nutrition: There is a critical 30 minute window after your workout where refuelling is essential. Balance Carbohydrates to Proteins. Just finished an endurance workout work in a ratio of 3-4:1 of carbs to protein, for strength workouts aim for 1-2:1. My favourite recovery snack is an apple and chocolate milk, but I do try and mix more white skim milk in than chocolate milk. Aim for a low sugar recovery, milk of vegan milks (i.e. quinoa, brown rice, almond) and a fruit. Or have a nut butter sandwich on grainy bread, a good protein powder in milk or Greek yogurt and berries.
- Pre-workout: Whatever you can digest! I have a really sensitive stomach so I’m always watching what I eat a few hours before a workout. Go with high sugar, dense fruits; bananas, pineapple, melon, passion fruit or grapes. Or try some high-end nutrition bars, gels or blocks; make sure they are filled with better products instead of cheap filler.
- Eating before bed: There is much debate about eating before you go to bed. The science says that weight gain, loss and maintenance is a simple formula of calories in vs calories out. I usually have a bed time snack, otherwise I wake up hungry in the middle of the night. Think of this much like a post-workout recovery snack; aim for a smaller portion in the balance of 3-4 carbohydrates to 1 protein.
Whatever your daily routine is enjoy the foods you love, just remember to enjoy them in moderation. Eat a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats through a variety of foods. Try and eat every 2 to 4 hours to maintain a constant metabolic rate through the day. Keep sipping water through the day. If you forget to drink and need to overload avoid it during meal times; it will interfere with food digestion. Sleep, and get good sleep. Try and sleep to a regular schedule and get enough sleep so you’re not feeling tired during your day (anywhere from 7.5-10hours). Most importantly avoid stress; chronic stress dislocates everything, it will interrupt your sleep patterns, your digestion, your ability to absorb nutrients… in general it really disrupts your life.